The Sugar Quill
Author: jncarlin  Story: Transformations  Chapter: Chapter 3: Working Girl
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Chapter 3: Working Girl

Author’s Notes: As ever, much thanks goes to my beta reader, Shimotsuki. First-date goodness can be found within. Enjoy!

 

Previously, in “Transformations”: The afternoon following Remus's first kiss with Tonks, Sirius helps talk him through his conflicted feelings. The next day, after Sirius's birthday party, Remus and Tonks have a heart to heart (and a few lovely snogs), and decide to give a relationship a try.

 

 

Chapter 3: Working Girl

 

 

Normally, Tonks hated waking up in the morning. But today she woke with a smile on her face. She stretched, and hopped out of bed. No morning could be a bad one after snogging Remus before going to bed.

 

She skipped over to the small cage in the corner of her room, and started cooing softly at the small speckled barn owl inside. "Time to wake up, Lulu," she said opening the door of the cage. "I need you to run an errand for me."

 

Tonks bounded across the clothing-strewn floor, and searched through the pile on her desktop until she found a blank sheet of parchment. She quickly scratched a note.  "Cory—I got my snog! And it was better than I ever imagined. He's taking me out on Tuesday. I guess I haven't been wasting the last six months after all. Love, Tonks XOXO."

 

She tied the note to Lulu’s leg, and opened a window for the small owl. “Here you go, darling. I’ll have a nice little mousy waiting for you when you get back.” Lulu fluttered off with a tiny screech, and Tonks closed the window behind her.

 

She had showered, dressed, and was finishing her breakfast when the owl returned.  She let her in, and pulled the note from her leg. “Good girl,” she said, putting Lulu back in her cage and fetching the promised treat from her fridge. At last, she returned to the kitchen, and unrolled the note.

 

“Tonks—I just knew it would happen! I'm so happy for you! After Tuesday, you’ll have to make the time to come and give me the details in person. Love and kisses, Cory.”

 

Tonks was still beaming three hours later as she and two other Aurors positioned themselves outside of a shabby house in Wales, preparing for a surprise raid. The owners of the house had been seen trafficking in illegal potions ingredients, and were suspected of using dark magic to protect their little enterprise. Tonks gritted her teeth and tried to shake thoughts of Remus from her head. She needed to focus on the task at hand, or there could be trouble.

 

Red sparks shot up in the air. That was the signal. “Reducto!” she cried, blasting open the window in front of her. She leapt through the gaping hole where the window had been, and took a quick survey of the room in front of her. Shelves covered with illegal ingredients lined the walls, but no one was in the room. She made her way to the door, her wand held at the ready in front of her.

 

She kicked open the door, and dodged as a curse blasted past her. She took aim at her assailant in the hall, and hit him with an Expelliarmus. His wand went flying, and he turned to run, but Tonks was faster. “Incarcerous!” Thick ropes wound around the wizard, and he fell hard to the ground.

 

She could hear the sound of fighting coming from a room down the hall. She dashed toward it, and burst into the room, casting up a protective shield spell to ensure that she wouldn’t be hit by any stray curses.

 

A corpulent man spun on his knees with surprising agility to face her. He had been hiding behind a sofa that stood between him and the other door, from which Proudfoot was blasting him with spells, but he now sat fully exposed to her. She struck him with another Expelliarmus, just as Proudfoot called out, “Behind you!”

 

She turned and dived as a stream of arrows shot at her from the wand of yet another assailant. She was able to evade the arrows, but as she dodged, she stumbled and landed on the floor. Proudfoot was shooting spells over her head at her arrow-launching attacker, and she strove to rise to her feet and move out of the line of fire when the beefy man she had disarmed launched himself at her with alarming speed. Her shoulder hit the corner of a table hard, and she fell face-down to the floor. She cried out in pain, but held tight to her wand.

 

Her massive assailant tackled her, pinning her to the ground, and scrambled to reach her wand. She could barely catch her breath under his massive bulk, and struggled desperately to crawl forward out of his grasp. Her wand arm was pinned beneath her, and his meaty hand was groping under her in an attempt to take her wand. With a furious adrenaline-fueled heave, she freed her arm and slammed her elbow into his eye. He cried out, and reared back, giving her room to twist around and point her wand right at him. “Stupefy!” she cried. A red bolt of light hit him square in the face, and he toppled lifelessly onto her. She grunted as his bulk once more knocked the wind out of her.

 

Proudfoot dashed up to her. “Well done, Tonks! I was afraid he had you, for a minute there.”

 

Robards entered the room. “I’ve secured the rest of the house. We have them all. Great Merlin, Tonks! Are you all right?”

 

“I will be once you get this monster the bloody hell off of me!” she wheezed. “I can hardly breathe!”

 

Proudfoot hastily levitated the unconscious man off of her, and then secured him by conjuring some ropes. Robards stepped forward to help her to her feet.

 

“Ouch!” she said as he tried to pull her up by the left arm. She scrambled to a sitting position, and offered him her right arm instead. Once she was on her feet he took a close look at her left arm. “Where does your arm hurt?” he asked.

 

“It’s not my arm. It’s my shoulder. It hit the table when that brute threw me down.”

 

Robards nodded. “It’s probably dislocated. Proudfoot and I will call in some fellows from MLE to help get these blokes to the lock-up. You ought to get yourself to St. Mungo’s to get that shoulder attended to.”

 

Tonks scowled. She had taken down two of the men herself, and she wasn’t going to give up the glory of walking them into the Ministry lock-up that easily. “I’ll be all right for a while longer,” she said, wincing as she spoke. Her side was hurting when she breathed, but she wasn’t about to admit it.

 

“Oh really?” said Robards, raising an eyebrow. “Then how about you bend over and retrieve this fellow’s wand.”

 

She strode over to the wand, and leaned to pick it up. Robards stopped her. “With your left hand,” he called.

 

She glared at him, and clenched her teeth against the pain as she tried to reach for the wand with her left hand, but it was too much, and a small whimper escaped her lips before she even got close to the wand. “Give it up, Tonks,” said Robards. “You need to get to a Healer.”

 

She stood up straight, and nodded morosely. She was the smallest and youngest of the Aurors, and she hated to appear weak in front of them. Nearly all of the Auror squad made regular trips to St. Mungo’s, but she felt like every trip she had to take made her appear less competent in their eyes. She felt like she had more to prove.

 

“Don’t worry, Tonks,” said Robards, as if he was reading her mind. “You did good work today. We’ll make sure Scrimgeour knows you were the one to take down two of our four targets. And a bloody good job you did of it too.”

 

“Thanks,” she said ruefully. She glanced over at Proudfoot. “And thanks for the warning about that bloke in the hall. If it wasn’t for you, I could have had some arrows in my back, instead of just a dislocated shoulder.”

 

“Anytime, Tonks,” said Proudfoot. “I’m always happy to save a damsel in distress.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “Go stuff it,” she said. The three Aurors laughed.

 

“Do you feel up to Apparating?” asked Robards.

 

Tonks thought for a moment, wincing at every breath. “Don’t think so,” she said, shaking her head.

 

Robards nodded. “Proudfoot,” he said, “you get her to St. Mungo’s, and then bring back the MLE boys to help us out. I’ll guard these buggers until you get back.”

 

Great, thought Tonks. Now I have to go Side-Along like a little kid. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s get it over with. And don’t you dare gloat!” she said, when Proudfoot started to smirk at her.

 

In no time they arrived at the St. Mungo’s front reception desk. “Hello, again, Miss Tonks,” said the receptionist.

 

“Hello, Doris,” said Tonks.

 

“Nothing serious this time, I hope?” said Doris.

 

“No,” said Tonks, shaking her head. “A dislocated shoulder, and some bumps and bruises.”

 

“Wonderful. They should have you fixed up in no time,” said Doris.

 

“You’ll be all right without me?” asked Proudfoot.

 

“I’m fine. Go get your MLE peons and get those wankers locked up, will you?” replied Tonks.

 

“No problem. See you tomorrow, Tonks.” With a little wave, Proudfoot Disapparated away.

 

“So who’s on call today, Doris?” asked Tonks.

 

“That would be Martin Eggers, Miss,” said Doris. “I’ve sent word along. A Mediwitch should be out for you shortly.”

 

“Excellent!” said Tonks.

 

She was glad Marty was on call. He’d been a chum of hers since Hogwarts. They’d been both been in Hufflepuff, and had lots of fun together, but lost touch after school. However, once she started making regular visits to St. Mungo’s her injuries had more often than not been attended to by Marty. They’d revived their old friendship, and she’d even joined him and three other old classmates on social outings several times in the past few months. She’d far rather be treated by Marty than by old Madam Vector, or that stern bloke Fortescue. She could never understand how he could be so different from his ice-cream vending brother.

 

Soon enough an Assistant Mediwitch appeared, walked her back to an examination room, and helped her to remove her robes and shirt and put on an open-backed examination gown instead. She was surprised to see some blood on her shirt as she removed it. Maybe my shoulder’s worse than I thought?  A few minutes later, Marty came in. “So here we are again, eh Tonks?” he said.

 

“Yeah. A nasty brute we were after finally broke my streak of injury-free assignments. I’d gone nearly a whole month! But I should have known it was too good to last.”

 

“Did you at least take him down?” asked Marty.

 

“You’re bloody right I did! He tackled me trying to get my wand, but I hit him with a good Stupefy point blank. There’s no dodging that.”

 

Marty chuckled. “No, there certainly isn’t.”

 

“He went down like a log—but, unfortunately, he landed right on top of me. And he must have weighed as much as a hippogriff.” She winced as she talked.

 

“Is that when you hurt your shoulder?” he asked. He was running his wand over her, doing some diagnostic spells as the talked.

 

“No,” she said. “That happened when he tackled me. I fell against the corner of a table.” She winced again as she took a deep breath.

 

Marty got a look of concern on his face. “My Assistant only told me about the dislocated shoulder—but you seem to be experiencing some other pain as well, aren’t you?”

 

She nodded. “It hurts when I take deep breaths,” she said. “I figured it was just a bad bruise.”

 

“I think I’d like to take a closer look. Would you lie down, please?”

 

She lay back on the examination table, and pulled up the gown on one side to reveal the painful portion of her ribcage. Marty ran his wand over her ribs, chanting quietly to himself. After a minute he lowered his wand and said, “You’ve got two cracked ribs. He really must have weighed as much as a Hippogriff.”

 

“Oh, he did. Believe me,” she moaned, pulling her gown back down.

 

“Okay, let’s get a look at that shoulder, now,” he said, helping to sit back up.

 

He opened the back of her gown, and gently pushed it down to expose her injured shoulder.

 

Ooo…” he said. “You got a bugger of a cut back here. But it’s nothing a quick Episkey won’t take care of.”

 

“That must have been from the corner of the table,” she said. She felt some of the pain easing already.

 

“There. That’s taken care of,” he said, pulling her gown back up over her shoulder. “It’s definitely dislocated. Marilyn,” he said to the quiet girl hovering in the corner. “We’ll need a pain-numbing draught, a bone-knitting solution, and a tube of bruise-healing paste.” The girl nodded and stepped out into the hall.

 

“The spell to fix the dislocation is simple, but quite painful so I want to wait until the pain-numbing draught has taken effect before enacting it,” he said.

 

“Thanks,” she said. “The last thing I need right now is more pain. But I do have my own bruise-healing paste at my flat—it’s a daily necessity for me.”

 

“How much do you have?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

 

She thought for a moment. “Actually—I think I’m almost out.”

 

“How did I guess?” He smiled warmly at her.

 

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Good old clumsy Tonks needs some more bruise-healing paste.”

 

He leaned amiably against the table next to her. “I don’t think you’re clumsy.”

 

Tonks gave him an arch look. “Come on, Marty. You’ve seen me dance. You can’t not call me clumsy after that.”

 

He shook his head. “No,” he said. “You’re not clumsy. You just don’t always notice your surroundings when you’re preoccupied.”

 

“I must be constantly preoccupied, then.”

 

“You’re just thoughtful—pensive. Your mind is on higher things than mundane objects like tables and chairs, and vases.”

 

She laughed. “Oh, don’t remind me about that vase. How many times did I break it, in the end?”

 

“I lost count at thirty-three,” he said with a grin.

 

“Oh, Merlin. Preoccupied is right,” she said with a laugh.

 

The nurse returned with the prescribed remedies, and she quickly gulped down the bitter pain-numbing draught. Within seconds the throbbing pain in her shoulder and side had receded to a dull ache.

 

“Ready?” asked Marty, drawing his wand again.

 

“As I’ll ever be,” she replied, bracing herself.

 

A flash of blue light hit her shoulder, and with a distinct “pop” her joint slid back into its proper place. “Youch!” she exclaimed. “That hurt more than I was expecting!” She reached her other hand over to lightly massage the injured shoulder.

 

“And that was with the pain-numbing draught,” replied Marty. “Just imagine what it must feel like without the potion.”

 

“I don’t even want to think about it. God bless Apothecaries, eh?”

 

“I’ll drink to that. And speaking of drinking, you’ve still got your bone-knitting solution to get down.”

 

She stuck out her tongue. “Blech. I can’t stand that stuff.”

 

Marty smiled. “It’s better than having cracked ribs, isn’t it?”

 

“I suppose so,” she muttered, picking up the steaming cup. “Bottoms up,” she said, and downed the brew in a few lusty gulps.

 

Ughh,” she said. “I think it’s worse every time.”

 

“Something to clear the taste away?” said Marty, conjuring a green lollipop and holding it out to her.

 

“Have I been a good little girl to earn my treat?” she asked.

 

“Good enough,” said Marty, as she took the lollipop from him.

 

Mmm. Minty.”

 

“It’s the best flavor to rid the aftertaste of foul potions.”

 

“Thanks,” she mumbled around the candy in her mouth.

 

“Do you want Marilyn’s help with the bruise-healing paste?” he asked.

 

“No, thanks. I can manage,” she replied.

 

“Well, then, you can go on home. I want you to take it easy for the rest of the day. Take a nap if you can. The ribs will take most of the night to finish knitting, and I don’t want you to do anything to agitate them.”

 

“So no Troll wrestling?” she asked.

 

“No. I’m afraid that’s on the list of non-Healer-approved activities for the day.”

 

“Okay, I’ll just have to owl Lurg and cancel, then. But I’ll have to blame you—and Lurg’s got a nasty temper.”

 

Marty laughed. “I think I can handle it.” He paused. “I was actually meaning to owl you today,” he said. “This morning I heard that there’s an American troubadour going to play an acoustic set at the Dragon’s Lair. He’s supposed to be really fantastic. Emily, George, Thad and I are planning on going. I was wondering if you’d like to join us?”

 

“Sounds like fun. When is it?”

 

“Tomorrow night.”

 

“Oh,” she said. “I’m sorry, but I’ve already got plans for tomorrow night.” Very important plans—and nothing is going to interfere. Nothing.

 

Marty looked disappointed. “That’s too bad. I hear he’s actually a graduate of Blue Sky, in Los Angeles.”

 

Ohh,” said Tonks, in genuine disappointment. “I’ve never actually seen a Blue Sky graduate making a living off of the arts before. I’m sorry to miss it.”

 

“If I hear of him playing any other gigs, I’ll be sure to owl you.”

 

“Do,” she replied. “I’d like that.”

 

They bid their goodbyes, and once she finished rubbing some bruise-healing paste into her various contusions, Tonks dressed, and headed home for some rest.

 

After a few hours on the sofa flipping through old magazines, she felt ready to scream. If there was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was boredom. Just when she thought she was ready to go mad, she heard a tapping at her window.

 

She raised the window with a flick of her wand, and a grey owl swooped into her living room, dropping a large yellow sunflower into her lap before swooping out again.

 

With a curious grin, she picked up the flower and pulled off the note attached to its stem.

 

“Nymphadora,” it read. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Wear something nice, and make sure you have an empty stomach. Yours, Remus.”

 

A warm tingle crept through her whole body. She hugged the flower to her chest with a broad gin on her face.

 

Just like that, her boredom was banished. Now she could spend the rest of the evening wondering what to wear for Remus, and pondering what sort of outing he would surprise her with.

 

****

 

Remus paced back and forth across the parlor for what must be the hundredth time. He paused, glanced at the clock on the wall, and resumed his pacing.  Sirius sat sprawled on a nearby sofa.  He looked up from the magazine he was reading, and scowled. “Will you please stop that?” he said. “You’re driving me crazy!”

 

“Sorry. Sorry,” said Remus.  He sat down in the nearest chair, leaned with his elbows on his knees, and started tapping his feet nervously, periodically glancing at the clock.  Sirius took a deep breath. The past hour since Remus had returned from his shift doing guard duty outside the Department of Mysteries had been exceedingly frustrating.  Remus may have finally gotten balls enough to ask Tonks on a date, but he was still acting like a complete Nancy about it.

 

“Will you just calm down!” said Sirius, tossing his magazine to the floor. “You’re being bloody ridiculous about this whole thing. You already know she likes you. She spent more than an hour Sunday night snogging you, for God’s sake. It's not like she's going to suddenly change her mind and walk out on you."

 

“I know that,” said Remus. “I know that. I know that she likes me just as much as I like her. I know that we get along well, and we’re never at a loss for things to talk about. I know that she’s just as eager for this as I am. But I still can't help being nervous anyway. I haven't done this in nearly a decade! How could I not be nervous?”

 

As pleased as Sirius was back his two friends were finally moving on from unrequited crushes to snogging each other senseless, he was already getting sick and tired of Remus constantly venting his ridiculous insecurities to him. His life was frustrating enough already, without having to listen to an endless stream of, “But I'm not good enough for her...  I have so little to offer her...  She should be with someone her own age...  It's been so long...” and any number of other ridiculous sentiments. It was time Remus woke up to reality and realized just how good he really had it.

 

“Oh yeah?” said Sirius. “Well it’s been a bloody long time for me, too. And I wish like hell I was in your position. I wish that I had a pretty young witch falling all over me. I wish that I finally had a chance to overcome more than ten years of enforced celibacy. I wish that I could go out to fancy restaurants with beautiful women. But I can't do any of those things, now can I? And it really pisses me off to hear you acting as if all this is some sort of bleeding curse."

 

Remus looked back at him with wide eyes. “Good Lord, Sirius. I had no idea that was how I sounded. I'm so sorry.”

 

Sirius looked at the ground, and shook his head. “It's okay,” he said. “I’ll survive. But you can't blame me for envying you, can you?"

 

“Not at all,” said Remus. “I keep forgetting your feelings. It's awful of me, and there’s no excuse.”

 

“You're right,” said Sirius, staring his friend down ferociously. “There isn't.” 

 

Remus nodded mutely in reply. Sirius continued, “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the past fourteen years, it’s that opportunities usually only come once. And if you don't take them when you get the chance, they’ll probably never come again. And then you'll be really sorry. You and Tonks are fantastic together—anyone can see that. You have a real chance at happiness standing right there in front of you, and if you don't seize it, and make the most of it, then I will personally hunt you down and string you up by the balls for it. That's a promise.”

 

Remus stared back at him. “Well then, when you put it like that I've no choice, have I? I simply have to fall in love with her.”

 

His tone was sarcastic, but Sirius knew that there was more than a little truth to what Remus had said. In fact, from the look on his face, Sirius thought that he might finally be getting through to his friend. And it was about bleeding time.

 

“You know,” said Remus suddenly. “I have it on good authority that Hestia Jones would be more than willing to have a go with you, if you fancied it.”

 

Sirius sat up straight, blinking in astonishment. “Hestia? She hardly ever says two words together when I'm around!”

 

“It's just shyness. I'm sure she'd open up if you tried to make her more comfortable. Maybe a little wine—some soft music. I could help arrange it, if you'd like.”

 

Sirius was at a loss for words. She was decent enough looking, he supposed, but how could any woman too shy to talk properly be worth his while? “I don't know,” he said finally. “I'll have to think about it.”

 

“You do that,” said Remus. “And get back to me.” He glanced at the clock again, and smiled. “Well, thanks to that lovely little diversion, it's now late enough that I can head for Tonks’s flat without showing up too early and looking over-eager. Thank you.”

 

“Anytime, mate,” said Sirius, coughing uncomfortably. Hestia? He'd never even considered her. She was hardly his dream girl, but it had been such a long time...

 

Sirius spent the first hour after Remus’s departure flipping absently through some books. Then he went upstairs to visit Buckbeak for an hour. Then he headed back down to the drawing room, picked up a book, stared at for a moment, and then dropped it and started pacing.

 

A few minutes later he heard the front door opening, and footsteps coming down the hall. Bill Weasley peered through the door, and smiled. “Hi, Sirius. What are you doing?”

 

“Dying of boredom. Please tell me you you’re here to entertain me?”

 

Bill laughed. “I was thinking more of entertaining myself, but if you benefit in the process, all the better.” He came into the room, glancing around. “Where’s Remus? Did Dumbledore send him off again?”

 

“Nope,” said Sirius, flopping down in an armchair. “He’s on a much pleasanter errand tonight.”

 

“Oh?” Bill took a seat.

 

Sirius nodded. “He’s escorting our lady Tonks out for a night on the town.”

 

Ohhhh. So that’s finally happening, is it?”

 

“It is indeed.”

 

Emmeline will be happy to hear it. It’s her week, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes—but it actually started in Dung’s week, so the pot ought to go to him.”

 

Bill smiled. “Good for Dung.”

 

“Good for Remus.”

 

Bill laughed. “Now Tonks will just have to see if all her patience was worth it.”

 

Sirius gave Bill a hard look. “Don’t you have a girl of your own to be with right about now?”

 

Bill looked down and shrugged. “I was with her earlier.”

 

“What? Is her company losing its appeal?”

 

Bill shook his head. “Just the opposite. Her company is far too appealing. I needed a little break to unwind.”

 

Sirius was surprised. Was Bill saying what he thought he was saying? “Forgive the intrusion, but I thought the two of you were…you know?”

 

Bill sighed. “No. We’re not. Fleur is an old-fashioned kind of girl. She’s saving herself for marriage.”

 

Sirius let out a long whistle. “Wow. Sorry, mate.”

 

Bill leaned back and stretched out. “I’m not sorry.”

 

Sirius raised an eyebrow at him. “Really?”

 

“Really. I had my fun in Egypt. I think I’m ready for something more serious.”

 

Everyone seemed ready for something more serious. Everyone but him. Sirius tried to sound positive. “Good for you, good for you. So—do you think she might be the one?”

 

“Maybe. I’m going to France the day after Christmas to meet her family.”

 

“Now that is serious.”

 

Bill nodded. The two men sat in silence for a few minutes. Bill never had been one for opening up much about his personal life. Which inevitably frustrated Sirius—gossip had become his primary form of entertainment, lately.

 

Finally, after the uncomfortable silence was becoming too much to bear, Bill said, “Care for a game of Exploding Snap?”

 

“Absolutely,” said Sirius, jumping up to find the cards. Bill might not be good for gossip, but he was a truly wicked card player.

 

****

 

Tonks rose from her seat at the restaurant, and Remus helped her back into her cloak. She loved it when he acted like a gentleman, and treated her like a lady. Not many men thought of her as a lady, so she cherished the experience.

 

"Would you like to go walk off some of this dinner? Or is it too cold?" he asked.

 

"No," she said.  "It's not too cold. And Lord knows I ate enough to feed a hippopotamus, tonight. I need to burn off some of those calories."

 

Remus had taken her to a magnificent little Bistro called “Cacao,” which included chocolate—or cacao—in one form or another in all of its dishes, both savory and sweet. It was an extraordinary culinary experience which she wouldn’t soon forget. And, much to her relief and delight, not only had the dinner been amazing, but their conversation had also been as enjoyable and easy as ever.

 

They left the restaurant and headed out into the cool night. Tonks pulled her cloak tight about her. Remus put an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. “Can't have you freezing on me,” he said. “Then who would help me finish Taming of the Shrew?”

 

“Sirius could always stand in for me.”

 

“Oh, but snuggling on the sofa with Sirius is far less appealing then snuggling on the sofa with you.”

 

“I'm glad to hear it.”

 

“So,” he said. “Our waiter interrupted you right when you were about to tell me about your adventure at work yesterday.”

 

As they strolled aimlessly along the unfamiliar streets, she told him about the raid and her subsequent injury. These sorts of injuries had practically become a routine ever since her promotion to Junior Auror, but Remus was horrified.

 

“He threw you to the ground?!”

 

“Well, against a table, first, and then to the ground,” she corrected.

 

Remus was wide eyed and practically sputtering. “Does this sort of thing happen every day?”

 

“Oh, no, no,” she said. “Just once or twice a week.”

 

“Why did you choose this career again?”

 

She rolled her eyes. “Because I believe in justice. Plus, all the action can be pretty fun. It really gets the adrenaline going.”

 

Remus shook his head. “I always thought James and Sirius were crazy for wanting to be Aurors. Now I know I was right.”

 

“Are you calling me crazy?” she asked in mock indignation.

 

 “You're not Mad-Eye crazy, but you've made a good start.”

 

She swatted him. “Just for that, I'm not going to kiss you again for the rest of the night.”

 

He arched a grin at her. “Yes, you will.” The husky confidence in his voice sent shivers down her spine.

 

The look of playful confidence on his face made it hard to maintain her resolve, but she couldn’t back down that easily. “No, I won't."

 

He leaned over to whisper in her ear, his breath warm and tantalizing on her skin. “Yes, you will."

 

“What makes you so sure?” she said, smiling up at his warm brown eyes.

 

“Because a woman who didn’t want to be kissed wouldn’t have stuck her cold little hand up the back of my shirt while trying to get warm.”

 

She glanced guiltily down at her arm, snaked up under his coat, to where her hand had made its way to the warm skin of his lower back. “Hmm. You might have a point there.”

 

“Do I?” he said with a boyish grin on his face.

 

She nodded.

 

“Good,” he said, leaning forward to brush his lips against hers. She responded to him eagerly, snaking her fingers through his thick hair, pulling her body closer to him with the hand still clutching his back. She felt like her whole body was on fire as his lips pulled away from hers and made their way down her neck, lingering in the spot where her neck curved into her shoulder. She gasped in pleasure. His mouth covered hers once more, and he pulled her tighter to him.

 

After another breathtaking minute, he pulled away, breathing heavily, and gently loosened his embrace. “I told you that you would kiss me,” he whispered.

 

And I didn't even put up a fight.Git,” she muttered.

 

He laughed. “I'm lucky you like gits.”

 

They walked for another half an hour before she finally decided that her high-heeled sandals were no good for long walks. After finding a secluded corner, out of sight of passers-by, they Apparated back to her building. He walked her up the stairs to the door of her flat. “So when do we do this again?” she asked.

 

He looked slightly crestfallen, and she couldn’t fathom why. “Well,” he began, “I’m afraid that I won’t be able to take you any place like tonight for quite a while. In fact—based on my current cash-flow situation—June sounds about right.”

 

Tonks frowned a little. She was both flattered and frustrated that he’d spent so much on their first night out together, but she needed to make him understand that it was his company she valued, not what money could or couldn’t buy. “I’m not talking about the fancy dinner, you prat! I’m asking when can I go out with you again?”

 

He looked sheepishly down at the ground with a bemused smile on his face, and then looked back up into her eyes with a delightful twinkle in his own. “How does Friday sound?”

 

She grinned. “Friday sounds just perfect.”

 

“So—you won’t mind that from here on out it’ll be pubs and picnics and long walks for us, instead of anything fancy?”

 

“Of course I don’t mind. Fancy dinners are nice from time to time, but when it really comes down to it, I’m more of a pub, picnic and long walk kind of girl.”

 

“You don’t have to say that just to make me feel better.”

 

“I’m not. I’m saying it because I mean it.”

 

“Thank you,” he said, his eyes shining. He leaned in for another lingering kiss. When he finally pulled back, he shook his head in amazement. “I hope I never get used to that.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I like it to feel like the first time, every time.”

 

She could feel herself grinning like a besotted school-girl, and she didn’t care. “Remus Lupin, you really are the most romantic thing that's ever happened to me.”

 

“Me?” he replied, looking legitimately surprised.

 

“Yes, you.” She pulled him down for another kiss.

 

A few minutes later, they parted. “I’ll see you Friday,” she said, slipping inside her flat. “If not sooner.”

 

“If not sooner. Goodnight, Nymphadora.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

 

Author’s Notes: I'm so happy that you are all enjoying this romcom of mine as a nice break from the post-DH angst, and I plan on carrying it through all the way to the end of the OotP era. If you leave a review, Remus would be delighted to blow his budget treating you to a night at a fancy bistro--or, if you prefer, he'd be glad to share a picnic or a long walk. :)

//
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